How to make cobbler's cake

When the cobblers bake cakes ...

When the new People's Party is talked about in legal circles these days, there is overwhelming astonishment and even undisguised aversion. Competence is obviously written in lower case, the best laws should be thrown away and the zeitgeist should waft through the courtrooms. Some feel reminded of the Russian fabulous poet Krylow: The world is turned upside down when cobblers bake cakes and bakers mend the soles of their boots.

Of course, we don't need all of the laws that were passed before the turn of the millennium. Of course one can argue about penal laws splendidly. But do you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater right away? Is it therefore necessary to shout demands into the forest of leaves that, on closer inspection, are sheer nonsense?

There are two reasons for the open legal broadside:

  1. The ÖVP has a fundamental strategic problem with the liberal professions in general and independent lawyers in particular. This problem arises from the group structure in which lawyers, accountants, notaries, doctors etc. have no place. The Chamber of Commerce, which has seized the Wirtschaftsbund, is not a political partner, but a class competition for the liberal professions. While lawyers are predestined legislators in every parliament in the world, they have practically no place in the ranks of the ÖVP. The only exception in the current National Council comes from an Upper Austrian regional list and does not even have a spokesperson function. In the absence of a doctor in the National Council, the ÖVP has nominated a former ORF employee as health spokesperson. How do you want to hold technical discussions in this way? With the absence of representatives of the liberal professions, competence is lacking at a crucial point.
  2. In the ÖVP, the desire for a presumed external impact dominates every claim to competence. The question "How is something received?" displaces the question "What is important?" It is not the politicians who give the PR people the message, but the other way around: The PR people tell the politicians what messages they have to bring to the audience. It is not the dog that wags its tail, but the tail with the dog. There is currently a need for vicarious agents who can spread messages - not self-thinkers who embody their own messages. Many newcomers do not understand this reversal in the initial euphoria of their order and will only gradually internalize the rules of the game. During the first interviews with given content, you will begin to feel uncomfortable. Karoline Edtstadler can probably tell you a thing or two about it. As soon as the newcomer sees through the political game of media marketing, he / she can either hit the table or leave it - not an easy decision.

In this world it is only logical if the Federal Press Service is dissolved and the former press spokesman of the Federal Chancellor should now ensure a "uniform external appearance of all ministries". One might think that the guideline competence required by Sebastian Kurz during the election campaign has been introduced through the back door.

No, that's not the case. What we see is a pretty complete victory of packaging over content. The victory of propaganda over politics can, however, only be a temporary Pyrrhic victory. As the saying goes: cobbler, stick to your last.

Georg Vetter is a lawyer, board member of the Hayek Institute and president of the Club of Independent Liberals. He was a member of the National Council until November 2017.